Microsoft is entering into a technical and business collaboration with rival Novell, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer announced Thursday. The two software makers have made a set of agreements to bridge the gap between proprietary and open-source software, he said.
Novell CEO Ron Hovsepian also spoke at the announcement of the plan Thursday afternoon at a news conference in San Francisco. "This announcement gives our customers interoperability and peace of mind all in one," he said.
The partnership involves interoperability between Windows and Novell's rival Suse Linux operating system.
Microsoft will offer coupons for maintenance and support of Novell's Suse Linux Enterprise Server and Desktop (SLES and SLED) products.
And the two will jointly work to develop virtualization technology. Novell favors the open-source Xen virtualization software as a foundation to run multiple operating systems in separate virtual machines on the same computer; Microsoft is working on its own alternative, code-named Viridian. Virtualization raises the prospect of different operating systems simultaneously running on the same server.
In addition, the Microsoft and Novell pact will include a promise that Microsoft won't assert rights over patents over technology that may be incorporated into Suse Linux.
However, the alliance won't affect Novell's antitrust suit against Microsoft, one source familiar with the plan said. The suit, filed in 2004, alleges that the software colossus used anticompetitive practices that hurt Novell's earlier WordPerfect office suite business.
Check News.com later today for full coverage of the Microsoft announcement.
Joris Evers contributed to this blog.